Governor proclaims July 24-29 to be OSU Master Gardener™ Week

June 27, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski officially has proclaimed this July 24-29 as Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener Week.

"The State of Oregon commends all of the OSU Master Gardeners for their invaluable contributions to our communities and diligent services to the citizens of the state," said Kulongoski in an official proclamation from the Office of the Governor. "Master Gardeners are generous humanitarians that volunteer their time to the protection and beautification of our environment, teaching sustainable gardening practices."

OSU's statewide volunteer program started in Oregon 30 years ago, when OSU Extension agents in Clackamas and Lane counties introduced the Master Gardener Program to Oregon gardeners. Starting with fewer than 50 volunteers in 1976, the program has blossomed into one of the most successful environmental education volunteer programs in Oregon, training approximately 20,000 volunteers over the past three decades.

In 2006, the OSU Extension Service trained 820 new Master Gardeners, according to Jan McNeilan, OSU Extension consumer horticulturist and statewide Master Gardener coordinator. Master Gardeners are active in 30 of Oregon's 36 counties, giving to Extension more than 3,000 active volunteers to help solve horticultural problems at county Extension offices and public parks, gardens and events.

Master Gardener volunteers are generous with their time and talents, McNeilan says, providing the equivalent of about 71 full-time jobs each year. This is the equivalent of nearly $2.4 million worth of effort for the public good annually, according to estimates by OSU agricultural economists.

Answering the public's gardening questions has always been a major focus, but volunteers have branched out to work on a wide array of projects. They also design and present educational programs on critical issues such as safe pest management practices, water quality, yard waste management and composting.

To learn more about the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program, visit: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg or contact your local county office of the OSU Extension Service.

Author: Carol Savonen
Source: Jan McNeilan